There are many reasons why we should care for our elderly. As our parents, supported us when we were young and vulnerable, they have weathered many of life’s storms, and have wisdom beyond our years. Islam consistently promotes respect and kindness to everyone, especially the elderly.
All life begins with weakness in childhood and ends with weakness in old age. Our elderly have raised us when we were young and took care of all our needs while making sacrifices of their own for the next and upcoming generation of families.
This following Quranic verse is clear in its message of treating the elderly with love and kindness:
“Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small” [Qur’an, 17:23-24]
Of course, as individuals continue to age, the regular challenges of daily life can become more and more daunting. Increased weakness, decreased motor capacity and possibly other confounding health issues can make the elderly even more vulnerable. In Canada, 90% of individuals over the age 65 have at least a chronic health condition. Unfortunately, it is found that sometimes individuals may become hesitant to support those in old age. This can often lead to feelings of isolation, depression and may result in many negative impacts on their mental and physical health, especially during these challenging times. With COVID-19, limited gatherings and the need for vulnerable elderly to isolate has also resulted in further feelings of loneliness amongst many older adults.
Taking the time to take care of our elders can increase their sense of belonging and purpose and also energize and empower them. Furthermore, it has the additional benefit of showing our appreciation and admiration for them.
In this rapid, ever-changing world, we must implement this practice into our daily lives, and not just limit it to members of our families, but to neighbours, strangers, and any elderly persons we see. Small conversations, a genuine smile, lending a hand–all go long ways. By incorporating these practices of kindness into our lives we also set examples for the younger generation so that they may also keep these fundamental practices in their own lives.
Serving elders in Islam is a beautiful notion, as inevitably one day (God-Willing) we will also become old and would want someone to look after us too. Here are three more pieces of Islamic wisdom highlighting the importance of supporting the elderly in Islam:
- “Anyone who recognizes the high status of old people and respects them, God will save him from experiencing the might and fear of the Resurrection Day.” Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s)
- “God is He Who created you from weakness, then ordained strength after weakness, then ordained weakness and old age after strength. He creates whatsoever He will, and He is the Knowing, the Powerful” [Qur’an, 30:54]
- “Part of reverence to God, the Exalted, the High, is to show reverence to an old man.” Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s)
The Zahra Foundation wishes you reward for all your efforts as we encourage everyone to take part in these beautiful deeds, for helping the elderly is a form of revering Allah (SWT)
References: Usul al-Kafi, v.2, p.658. & The Holy Qur’an
Contributed by: Wasefah Askari